Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
THE Government has blocked a Bulawayo City Council resolution to surrender the running of all municipal schools to parents saying doing so is against the country’s education policy.
Instead, said the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Slyvia Utete-Masango in an interview yesterday, if any transfer were to happen, it has to be to the Government.
According to the latest council minutes, BCC revealed that it was going to hand over 29 primary and one secondary school to school development committees (SDCs) as part of measures to cut costs.
The 30 schools have an enrolment of 39 341 pupils, supported by 160 non-teaching staff who are paid by council.
BCC said the move to hand over schools to SDCs means that the committees would collect all fees and employ their own personnel.
But Dr Utete-Masango said the municipality’s decision was not practical. “Why would they hand over to SDCs? SDCs are not permanent. If anything they should hand over to the Government not SDCs, that’s the policy,” said Dr Utete-Masango.
She said she could not comment further on the issue as council had not yet notified her ministry of its decision.
Last week, BCC said its plans to hand over schools to SDCs was necessitated by the Government’s insistence that the local authority maintains a 70:30 percent service delivery to salaries ratio.
It said if schools are handed over to SDCs, the collection of fees should improve.
“The advantage of such an arrangement would be the monitoring of fees payments. Under the present system, most pupils now complete their Grade Seven studies without paying anything and council has found its hands tied because of Government policies. Parents would be able to deal with each other at local levels in their respective communities.
“Council will however continue to construct schools in new and deserving residential areas as mandated by the Government and then hand them over to these committees for administration. Prior to that, council would construct and thereafter hand over the schools to Government,” reads the report.